Bhutan

21st Century education?

Sep 12, 2017
A quiet change is happening in the way we see and deliver or provide education. It is encouraging.
 
We look at education in different ways – monastic, secular, and non-formal. Secular education has seen rapid growth over the years. Number of schools in the country today is testimony to it. Non-formal education has been a huge success. Monastic education has also come a long way with inclusion of English as one of the important subjects. But education is education. It’s about broadening one’s circuit knowledge, one’s expanse of awareness. In the world we live in, awareness is more important. That’s real education.
 
Picture this. A 12-year-old nun, Ani Choni Tshoki in Trongsa, carries a backpack filled with English, Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics books, and leaves her nunnery hostel. She goes to Kuenga Rabten Primary School. She sits in Class VI. And picture Kuenga Rabten Primary School. Students who pursue “secular” education and those that come from the “monastic” are learning together. This is a brilliant merging of ideas.  Those who come from monastic backgrounds are competing equally with “secular” students. Ani Karma Yangzom, studying in Class PP, topped the mid-term exam.
 
Time has now arrived when there is a need to look at education differently. Let’s measure it by the opportunities that the State makes available for all – jobs in the civil service and private sector. What we need is people who are aware of the events at home and abroad besides specialisation that they have undergone. Do we give fair ground to fight?
 
Let’s recall our national dream of becoming a knowledge-based society. Information Technology  (IT) is good. That’s not enough, though. In order to make use of the full potential of IT, which is immense, we need awareness. Awareness can be had only when we can walk out of prejudice. Education is about creating awareness.
 
A new education system is begging to be recognised this day.
 
We have wholesome education system, but that hasn’t done us much good. Our education could be failing perhaps because we aren’t focused on the “real” wholesome education. There are education systems where bechelor’s degree is taken not as lightly as we do. It’s all about expectations. And here we are talking about creating this little home a knowledge-based society. It’s all about raising standard.
 
There was a time when the “secular” students had to familiarise themselves with critically important Buddhist texts like the Thenchoes and Sheting. Thankfully, Shakespeare came back. In between, science and technology has ruled our world. How do we understand and accomodate them?
 
The way our education system is set up, things are difficult to change. But earnest effort has to be made to give equal opportunities to all. This is our education narrative in the 21st Century. Or what is it?
 
Kuensel Online, September 12, 2017

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